This past week and for the first time in 10 years, the Green Bay Packers opened up shares of their common stock. For a mere price of $300, you could be part owner of an NFL team. Their plan is to sell 300,000 shares during the next few months to raise $90,000,000 for atrium and scoreboard improvements.
Technically, it's not a stock, it’s a certificate that can’t be sold or traded to anyone, except to an immediate family member (in the event of a death). Purchasers have zero protection under securities laws. The Packers have clearly communicated that it's "not an investment" and that shares offer "no possibility of profit."
To be fully transparent, to receive the certificate, the Packers are charging an extra $35 additional handling fee for each stock issued. Is this how the Green Bay Packers organization should repay their financiers and supporters? Charge them an extra $35 for each transaction?
One other thing to note, to purchase multiple hard copies, separate transactions will be executed for each copy. If a buyer wants to buy 10 shares, there would be 10 separate transactions for a total of $3,000, with $350 in additional fees. In my mind, this particular example shows how important customer service is by the Packers, especially to their part-owners.
I read online that this newest announcement by the Packers organization is a Kickstarter campaign on steroids. In a way, I can understand that sentiment. Even though the last one occurred a decade ago, the Packer organization did their due diligence to ensure this latest campaign is a success. But just keep in mind, this campaign would never have occurred without the Packer organization knowing it was going to be successful. As it stands on November 19, 2021, this campaign has brought in $36.7 million and sold over 110,000 shares in 2 days.
In his overview of the offering, Packers CEO Mark Murphy added a postscript: "Shares of stock in the Packers will make a cherished holiday gift." It might be until you gift your grumpy uncle a share of Packer stock and he eventually realizes it does not appreciate. Even if he's a Packer fan, he might wonder why a stock certificate that costs $300 would never have any financial value ever.
The 3rd offering occurred in 1950, and the 4th in 1997, essentially the Packer organization waited nearly 50 years for another stock certificate offer. Imagine owning this in the 60s during the first Super Bowls, chances are, you'd be the only neighbor on the block with such framed certificate and a few more stories to tell.
That’s certainly not the case today as the interest and discussion value decrease as the stock becomes more ubiquitous. When will new stock certificate owners realize that stock certificates (ultimately 800,000 shares) have flooded the market so the novelty of owning this stock is no longer a novelty? Too much of a good thing being done by the Packers? Time will tell.
I must mention back in 2011 after the 5th iteration occurred, the rhetoric around the certificate project was to renovate Lambeau Field and not increase ticket prices. Over the last 10 years and since 2011, Packer tickets continue to increase in price -- the Packers have the 4th most expensive tickets in the NFL. I'm not saying there's a direct correlation here but yet, it's not a coincidence. Moving forward, is it possible to have a stock certificate sale without forthcoming ticket increases?
What can you expect as a part-owner of one of the most iconic franchises? Not much besides a physical certificate. NFL profits could soar due to a mega-media deal and the Green and Gold could become among the most valued sports franchise in the world, your value doesn’t increase. Indeed, if an actual investment, and we’re speaking of the Green Bay Packers, despite what Aaron Rodgers might do, I’d give it very serious consideration. In these conditions, I'd be more inclined to "buy" the stock.
For some diehard fans, this is something they can afford – a big deal for some – a sneaky good gift idea. Some worry less about how common these stock certificates have become, their focus is on the special symbolism. One fan was quoted, "Am I going to wake up early tomorrow, to pay $300 + change for a “share” that doesn’t appreciate, can't be traded, pays no dividend, and offers no real say in team operations, just to be able to say I’m an owner for the rest of my life? Yup." For many, it's about adding authenticity to one's collection. Emotional or not, this purchase is often done by fans who look at this as a donation to the largest employee-owned NFL franchise. This donation is like art fans signing up for the annual art museum passes or becoming lifetime members. Regardless of how the passes are used, some contributors just believe in the cause or the event. Indeed, I applaud those fans because they are putting their money towards a team they love and support.
My initial question stated earlier was whether or not I'd gift money to the Packers for a piece of paper and not receive anything tangible. My bad, the actual stock certificate is a tangible object. I can't yet pull the trigger but I get why some fans want to own the stock certificate, they want to belong to a club they support. It's a sense of belonging. In the meantime, I'll continue to occasionally dip into the Packer nostalgic by talking about the Lombardi years or the arrival of Brett Favre in the 90s. However, I still need some tangible returns on my investments even if I still follow and sometimes love the Green Bay Packers.
Addendum on 11/21/21
In this latest sale period, the Packers are limiting buyers to 200 shares or $60,000 but again, realize these purchased certificates don't provide any economic interest or appreciate. However, if each certificate isn't worth anything to the buyer, then why would the organization limit the amount to 200 shares?